Yesterday I attended my fourth (I believe, but who can keep count?) Blue Mercury holiday ‘party’. In case you are lucky enough to not know, Blue Mercury is a retail store that carries a variety of high-end beauty brands: La Mer, Trish, Laura Mercier (something about writing this particular list, knowing these particular words and what they mean, makes me feel totally ridiculous).
Those of you who know me may be surprised to hear that I (that would be capitalized for emphasis but you see my problem…), yes I, have heard of and even set foot into a Blue Mercury shop. I know I don’t look like someone who bathes daily or ever gets a hair cut or owns contacts. And usually, I am wearing yesterday’s clothes with my hair pulled back in a ‘bun’ and my six-year-old glasses with who knows what prescription.
But, once a year, I forget about this version of me and, for a brief moment in time I imagine this other me that is groomed, ‘pretty’ even. (What, who wrote that?) Ok, it’s true. I would like to look in the mirror in the morning when I’m on my way to wherever and think: I look good. I look clean and my skin looks nice and my hair is shiny and I have a ‘glow’ – not necessarily a youthful glow but at least a nice middle-aged glow with as few lines and dark circles as is naturally possible (and, in this case, by naturally I include whatever I can buy in a bottle but doesn’t require surgery or injections).
Each year, Blue Mercury has a holiday ‘party’. They offer 10-20% off of everything in the store depending on how much you spend on products that, in general, never go on sale. So, each year, I remember right around this time that there’s this huge sale on this very expensive stuff that can make me ‘beautiful’ (if I just knew how to use whatever it is) and I look it up online, find the date, and go to the store.
I went last year. My son was about 9 months old. He was a preemie and was on a monitor at home for the first four+ months of his life and we had had a rough year. I had also just left my job of almost 10 years and was no longer earning a paycheck. I had lost none of the babyweight. I was exhausted. My mom was in town for the week. What else should I do with my one free hour but go to the Blue Mercury holiday ‘party’??
At this ‘party’ they provide free champagne and have magicians, professionally trained wizards, who give you booze and then use products in ways you never, ever, ever could at home. They take 42 different things and make you look like you just woke up from a week alone at a yoga smoothie reiki sweat lodge spa. Who is that 25-year-old vision of loveliness? I’ll take it. Whatever you did (hiccup), I want to do that at home.
So I’m standing at the register and the woman gives me my total. (Wait, wait, let me also mention that, on my way to the register, basket swinging in hand, my mom had just called with an ’emergency’ situation and I had to head home immediately. There are two kids screaming in the background, I don’t know what the situation is but a) I’m gorgeous and b) I have to get home now.) NINE HUNDRED WHAT???????? Ok, don’t panic. The contents of this basket weigh like 6 ounces. How is this possible? Definitely don’t vomit here in the middle of Blue Mercury with all of the beautiful people in black. I’m just going to take it home, look through it, pick like two things to keep and return the rest (because that’s clearly the rational choice here, right? Otherwise, how will I know if that was ‘radiant poverty’ or ‘peony youth’ that he used to line the middle underside of my left um, i don’t remember what).
Get to the car. Look at receipt. “Returns for store credit only.” I’m crying on the way home. I do not have a job. I don’t even need to go anywhere. I can use oil of olay or just, you know, some olive oil from my kitchen. What is in this stuff? It is magic, yes. I have the eyes of my 3-year-old daughter right now. But this is totally unsustainable. And not necessary. I’m happy. I feel pretty good most days in my glasses and dirty hair. People like me or I trick myself into thinking that anyway. Heck, I like me (except not right now when I feel vain, ridiculous, stupid, gullible, selfish, idiotic, wasteful, elitist…and should i even be driving? i didn’t expect to actually be drinking at 2 pm at a cosmetics store…).
My sweet mother goes through the entire bag with me (after I come clean about how horribly embarrassed I am about what I’ve just done). She’ll buy x for a gift for y. I can return x and buy her 15 jars of moisturizer to use over the next 10 years. She’ll give me z for christmas. We figure out how to cover about $200 in this way. I’m totally screwed. And terribly embarrassed. And sober again. This stuff has to go back.
I look in the mirror. It does look pretty good. But not really like me. And for goodness sake, if I’ll just wash my face every morning and buy some dry shampoo for the days I don’t shower, that would actually be a pretty good start. And maybe some mascara. I could do that. (And toothbrushing, as I believe I’ve mentioned before.)
So, in the rain, I drive back to the store the next day. Wearing no makeup, my 15-year-old raincoat and memory fails but I’m guessing my maternity jeans. And as I’m walking into the store I actually feel pretty good, proud of myself. Like me. I walk in the front door with my giant bag of beauty products. I say I need to return some things. I make some joke about a walk of shame and the gal at the counter doesn’t bat an eyelash or even hint a tiny bit at a smile. I don’t know if she sees this all the time or if i’m an anomaly.
Good news. I got ALL of the money back. I didn’t ask how, but I got it back. I did keep one thing. Just one little thing. And of course now I’m totally addicted so I went back to the party this year because how can I not get that amazing discount. WHEN WILL I LEARN? DO NOT GO TO ‘PARTIES’ WITH ALCOHOL WHERE THERE ARE MAGICAL BEAUTY PRODUCTS ON ‘SALE’.
Luckily, I made sure to go first thing in the morning when there was no booze, and they didn’t have what I was looking for anyway (so next time you see me I MAY look a little less radiant than when you saw me last or maybe I’ll just do a few jumping jacks and look exactly the same).